25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When we dig about in the ancient Mediterranean world, we find that the bones of most people reflect a serious protein deficiency. They ate a lot of bread, but not much meat. By some estimates they had such proteins about once per month. It is no wonder that Jesus’ words are filled with eating metaphors. The people to whom he spoke were often hungry and their bodies craved more. Jesus understood his audience.
Jesus also understood that his words would be read by people in other times and places. Our refrigerators are full. Indeed, our physicians are usually recommending less not more intake. But Jesus knew us and spoke these words for us. Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest. Had Jesus wandered the modern equivalent of our Galilee, I think he would have preached this sermon often. My life, like yours, has been marked by work. Often the first question people ask of us is, “What do you do?” They mean which job do we have. But work is not the whole of us. It is not even the best thing about us.
To all of us, Jesus promises rest. There are problems and questions which no longer burden us. God’s love and life itself are given, not earned. Jesus is that gift to us. There is no labor which will make us more or less a child of God and an heir of heaven. You can rest in that today. There is more. He who stumbled and fell under the burden of a cross, who had callouses on his hands from days spent in his father’s carpentry business, whose friends were fishermen who fished all night, this Jesus speaks also to your contemporary weariness. He has worked and sanctified your work. He knows your weariness and lends you his strength. He promises you his presence and blessing, no matter where this strange time may take you. Rest in this too.